While most of the Third Culture Kids I work with are the children of missionaries, they are part of a much larger group.  They share the moniker with children whose parents are involved in the military, international business, the diplomatic corps, aid organiztions, and other non-governmental organizations.  They are all TCKs.

I found this video a few years ago while preparing to speak to a varied group of Third Culture Kids.  I don’t think there were many military brats in the audience, but there were quite a few diplomatic corps, international business, aid organization, and, of course, missionary kids in the audience.  I love using this video in settings like that.  It shows the common threads that weave through the lives of all different TCKs.

As you watch, substitute the words “the government” or “the company” or “the organization” or “the mission” or even “God” for “military” and “country.”  It’s profound.


One of the things that isn’t verbalized but comes through loud and clear is grief.  Not a debilitating grief, but a profound hurt and sense of loss.  It accompanies so many different sound bites in this clip.  I don’t think many of the people pictured here would say they are ruled by their grief, but it’s a part of them.  It’s there for most TCKs.
My favorite part?  The beginning of the interviews–“Where are you from?”  Great answers!!!

Watch it–yes, it’s a little long, but so worth it!  Let me know what you think.  What stands out to you?  If you’re a TCK, what resonates?

photo courtesy of Defense Images/UK Ministry of Defense

7 responses to “BRATS”

  1. Really enjoyed this. Very deep, and somehow so sad… The thing that stands out to me is the lack of reason for this cost the kids are paying. Seems to me like I’d rather be a missionary kid than a military brat…
    But I don’t want to be too categorical…

  2. Wow, wow! Im a brat, oldest of 6 kids, father was all my life in the navy, we didn’t move much because of the family size, but so much of what they say was “normal” is also how I feel though I only lived 2 years as a baby outside of the continental US. Now I live in Spain as an adult, been here 6 years… And it feels like home just like San Diego was/is home. I’m doin a master in anthropology here and plan on doing my thisis on adult mks. God willing in the future as a full blown anthropologist I might be able to do a study on military brats. What I liked most was the comment that “their friends are other children in the same situation” (or something like that) because it’s true most of my friends are other tcks (even some I didn’t know were tcks until I started explaining my thesis idea to them).

  3. Soul—I’m glad you enjoyed it. There’s an undercurrent of sadness that runs through it, even when you take out the guy whose dad would get drunk every night. It’s oddly refreshing to hear you say it. I was beginning to suspect that looking at TCK grief for so long was tinting things because I hadn’t noticed it as much till this week. It’s good to know that’s not the case. In some ways I think BRATS pay a higher price than other TCKs. Their mobility is higher than most other groups. They don’t have the perks of really nice housing that most dip kids and business kids have. They usually have an absentee parent (not by the parent’s choice) for big stretches of time. They are more likely to have a parent die than others are. I greatly appreciate the sacrifices the military and their families make for the cause of freedom, human rights, and national security. It’s huge. I know some are called to it just as others are called to different things–like missionaries. However I suspect there’s a much higher sense of calling among missionaries. At least I hope there is. I know that sense of being where God wants you trumps all the negatives.

    David–thanks for stopping by and commenting! It’s good to have you here. I didn’t know the military limited transfers because of family size—interesting! High mobility is only one piece of the profile. I think the military lends itself to creating good TCKs even if they don’t transfer then a lot. How cool that you’re studying in Spain (that shouts, “TCK!” by the way). I have a good friend who lives in Madrid and works with TCKs all over Europe. I’m sure she’d be more than glad to talk to you if you’d like to pick her brain. Let me know. It’s amazing how many TCKs there are–and how many of them don’t even know what a TCK is. I’d love to read your thesis when you’re finished—assuming you’re willing to share. 🙂

  4. Thanks. And I will be willing to share if it gets accepted:) actually your “good friend” is the one who told me about your blog, when she is in Madrid she often goes to the same church as me :). She was my “introduction” into the world of tcks

  5. I’ll look forward to it getting accepted, David! Yes–I talked to Tammy yesterday. She said she’d sent your the link. It’s a small world!

  6. Hello! Thanks for this post. Things that struck me from the film were that a TCK says my childhood was: magical, privileged, and painful. I am an adult third culture kid and these 3 words resound in me too. I’m glad for what you are doing, it is good that the word gets out about TCKs. I would like to invite you to come over a visit my blog. I want to increase the awareness in the Netherlands (where I’m sort of from) and anybody else who wants to hear it. I met a half Dutch/ half America “Brat”just the other day, they’re still around, even here!

  7. You’re very welcome! Those are great words to describe the TCK experience. They hadn’t popped out for me before. I need to remember them. I will definitely be stopping by your blog!

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